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Downhill Bikes

Santa Cruz V10CC

Successful DH race bike is a beautiful example of craftsmanship

A bike that stands near the very top of the all-time most successful race bikes. Only the likes of the inimitable Sunn team of the nineties stands above. Since 2006 when they signed Steve Peat, the Santa Cruz Syndicate have had hugely successful world cup campaigns with each of their current racers Josh Bryceland, Greg Minnaar and Peaty all having won a world cup title or race on one form or other of the V10. It’s an incredible tally.

“the finish of Santa Cruz bikes is a lesson for most companies who aspire to demand high sums for their machinery”


Santa Cruz have had many iterations of the design and today the bike stands vastly different from the bike that Peaty took to glory in 2006 and who will forget the World Championship title in 2009, a feat also matched by Greg Minnaar on the bikes from west coast USA. It has also developed quite differently from the other west coast brand Intense Cycles with whom they share a similar VPP (virtual pivot point) platform. However, look at the latest M16 from Intense and there are many similarities between the two bikes.

Impeccable finishing

Like many brands… in fact most brands, Santa Cruz did not produce bikes for the tallest of riders for some time but today they stand as one of the few who do sell a genuine bike for those over six foot. But the V10 is much more than what happens in a fitting room. Like the Trek Session it’s a beautifully evolved piece of race machinery. And the finish of Santa Cruz bikes is a lesson for most company’s who aspire to demand high sums for their machinery. Santa Cruz build and finish is of the highest order.

Like most bikes in this list of what is the best of the best, there are still a few niggles. There’s the noisy chainset, lack of frame protection which when compared to the Specialized Demo is very distracting in that department. We still think the bottom bracket is a shade high and it still requires a good amount of time investment to get the set-up correct. When you do the rewards are impressive.

Overall then it’s a bike that has evolved and also grown. This is especially true in terms of its wheelbase and reach measurements. In terms of specification its often seen at races and in the Alps riders opting for full carbon on V10 bikes, the type of components used by the team but bear in mind that so much carbon componentry whilst it might offer a huge amount of stiffness to a bike, at the same time removes some feel, something we noticed when we rode the previous V10. A good aluminium wheelset on a V10 is still an awesome combination.

Something that’s not instantly noticeable about the V10 is the price. For the frame only option of the V10 is over a thousand pounds cheaper than a Trek Session 9.9 frameset. This might now put the Session as the most expensive custom build bike. But it’s not about the money its about the love that’s gone into this bike.


Joe Graney, Santa Cruz Bikes Chief Operations Officer

The new V10 project started when Greg wanted to start working on a bike to win the 2013 World Championships in his hometown of Pietermaritzburg. It was two days after he’d won the 2012 World Champs in Leogang.

He’d already convinced himself that big wheels were the winning ticket.  So we built an aluminum mule and did timed sessions against his existing bike. The results were inconclusive.

“Make it longer” he said. So we did.

“Make the chainstays longer too”.  So we did.

“Keep the BB the same height.”

What Greg goes fast on goes against what most forum nibblers claim is perfect geometry. But we listened. You don’t argue with fast.

The mule wasn’t raced and the 2013 World’s “pedally track” was won on his 26-inch wheeled coil-equipped stock V10. By that point Greg had tried every possible 27.5 combination, so we were quickly able to have new bikes ready to race the 2014 season.  Josh took to it like a rat up a drain pipe. Greg regretted not going EVEN longer, so we tooled up another front triangle just for him and Steve.

We spend a lot of time analysing the difference in weight distribution between the Syndicate riders. We’ve experimented with even longer chainstays and custom links that push the wheelbase out even further. And that worked for Greg on tracks like Val Di Sole this year… a course that “didn’t suit him”.

Based on that, we introduced a longer XXL V10 which now has longer chainstay specific to that size.

“Greg has been testing longer chainstays on his XXL with custom links depending on the track”

Greg’s obsession with set-up, combined with Marshy’s attention to detail gives the engineering team a ton of feedback to go on.  The trend of long front centers and short chainstays may create front end stability with playful rear ends.  But fun doesn’t always mean faster… we’re focused on the latter.

The whole process came from Greg. Even though we went to exactly where he said he wanted the XL to be, he experimented with longer headsets and 60mm stem on it.  Which couldn’t have been done before.  So we just said fuck it, let’s make another front.  It all happened pretty quick really – at least from our end.  It was only one race in with the new bike when the decision to make another size up was made and he was racing it right away.  Taking it from sample to production takes longer.

We settled on 17.3″ for production, which ratty races (on a size large). Greg has been testing longer chainstays on his XXL with custom links depending on track.

They (chainstays) do for some conditions and styles of riding but the punters have trouble hearing that.




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